Observations of a Checkout Girl

I think that working in a supermarket allows you to see humanity in a very different light. It makes you vulnerable to people and lets you see who it an arsehole and who has a heart of gold.

In the last couple of days I’ve had to put up with a lot of abuse from customers; it’s made me think a lot about people and how they are. One of the things that I look for as a marker of a polite, kind person is that they are respectful of shop assistants, waiters, taxi drivers, etc.

I have some lovely customers, people who come in week after week and are friendly and polite. They’re what make me enjoy my job- but it only takes one rude idiot to ruin a shift and lately I’ve been getting a lot of them.

It’s very interesting working on checkouts, you get to meet a lot of people in a very short period of time; after nearly a year in the job I have a few tricks- I can tell from your shopping if you’re single, living alone or have children. I’ve picked up some serious observation skills; I have to be able to judge someone’s character in a few seconds and then adapt my manner to suit it. It helps a lot with the acting side of things to have that kind of practise.

There seems to be a misconception; just because I work in a supermarket doesn’t mean I’m stupid. People treat me completely differently when I’m in my work uniform than they would if they just saw me in the street. Some of them seem to forget that I’m still a valid human being with feelings and all that shit.

It’s odd to see snatches of people’s lives, to get to interact with them for a few minutes each week and then never again. I love people who are on their own, couples or groups pay attention to each other and not to me- lone customers are more likely to chat. I meet lots of people, get flirted with by a few others and make tentative friendships with several. I don’t know how they would relate to me outside of a work setting.

There are some unfortunate people who seem to think that it’s alright to take whatever issue they’re having out on me- the most common and classic line is: “Speed up, I’m in a hurry.” … Okay; firstly, I am also in a hurry- I’ve usually got a shitload of delivery to sort out/a mess to clean up; secondly, it’s not my fault that you haven’t been organised enough to buy milk/bread/moisturiser in time.

The worst part about all of this is that I can’t retaliate when I have someone shouting at me, I just have to stand there and take it; just because I’m helping you doesn’t mean that I’m your slave, I’m actually a person too.

If you wouldn’t speak to a stranger on the street like that, don’t speak to a shop assistant like that… it’s that simple.

’til next time,

Wren x

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One thought on “Observations of a Checkout Girl

  1. I work at a call center and while most of my callers are good-natured folks just frustrated with the problem of the hour, I do encounter the fair few who think it’s okay to treat me like a non-person. It’s tough to disassociate myself from their anger, but I’ve learned a lot of de-escalation skills in the job. But I agree with you – jobs that require frequent interaction with a wide variety of people impart interesting (if not always enjoyable) lessons. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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